The Middle East and North Africa is not only increasingly important at the global level, it also has a long and fascinating history. It is here that writing was invented, states and empires were first born, and humans started living in cities. And it was from here that Judaism, Christianity and Islam originated and went on to transform the world. Today, the many societies and cultures of the region are key players in the world of commerce and politics, and also host to vibrant and diverse cultures. Studying this area and its history provides a fascinating window onto a distinctive and hugely important part of our increasingly globalised world, and gives a vantage point for understanding today’s pressing challenges of diversity, multiculturalism, and sustainability in all their historical depth.
The study of the civilisations of the Middle East and North Africa is inherently multidisciplinary. Students can engage with all aspects of society and culture, encompassing history, religion, politics, literature, media, the arts, habits and customs, languages, identity politics, and local and international relations. This area of study thus provides a broad and solid foundation across both the humanities and social sciences, allowing students to develop their skills in the areas that interest them most.
Our Department enables students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, to study many periods and societies of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as to focus on Jewish and Islamic cultures (both within the region and also globally). Our teaching is research-led, and over the course of their degree our students are themselves trained in research methods, leading to the final-year dissertation.
Students can choose to take an ancient or modern language as part of their studies including Arabic, Modern or Ancient Hebrew, Turkish, Sumerian, Akkadian or Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs. Studying a language not only enables conversation with a whole new range of interlocutors, and the study of written sources: being a part of the degree which is not essay-based, it broadens students’ mind with a different way of thinking and learning.
Academic staff in the Department research and teach across a range of areas that embraces the full span of Middle Eastern Studies: the Ancient Near East and its languages, Hebrew Bible, Ancient and Modern Jewish history and culture, Modern Middle East and North Africa, Medieval and Modern Islamic societies, Human Rights and the Holocaust.
A vibrant, student-friendly and diverse department, we are committed to the development of Middle Eastern Studies in Ireland through undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, research and public outreach. We are also a centre for teaching, research and public programmes in Jewish and Islamic Studies. Our public outreach programmes include public lectures, seminars, short courses and summer schools.
Our community of postgraduate students participate in the life of the department through research seminars and conferences. Some also contribute to undergraduate teaching.
Our graduates have won places and scholarships in international postgraduate programmes, and the breadth of the degree has opened up a wide range of career opportunities for them across many professions – from journalism to NGOs to the private sector.
The Department is also home to the Al Maktoum Centre for Middle Eastern Studies and the Herzog Centre for Jewish and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures.
Trinity College has a long tradition of teaching the languages and cultures of the Near and Middle East, and this is reflected in the Old Library’s holdings, which include ancient Egyptian papyri as well as Jewish and Muslim books from the Early Modern and Ottoman periods. The Weingreen Museum of Biblical Antiquities and the Rykle and Angelika Borger Assyriology collection provide valuable resources for teaching and research.